BATON ROUGE – For the second straight December, LSU put the first loss on one of the country’s last remaining undefeated teams as the Tigers scored an impressive 74-57 win over Liberty Sunday afternoon at the Pete Maravich Assembly Center.
Liberty fell to 14-1 on the season, one year and a week after LSU downed 12-0 Furman in the Assembly Center on Dec. 21, 2018 by almost an identical score, 75-57.
LSU is now 8-4 after playing what Coach Will Wade called possibly his team’s best game of the season. The Tigers shot 62.1 percent in the second half, had a 46-20 game advantage in points in the paint and an amazing 23-0 advantage in points off turnovers.
Helping that was a season low of six LSU turnovers, just one in the final 21 minutes of the game.
The Tigers were methodical against a team that was second in the nation in points allowed at 51.6 a game, No. 17 in the NET rankings and receiving votes in both the AP and USA Today polls. LSU shot 53.3 percent from the field (32-of-60) with four treys and 6-of-7 at the free throw line.
Darius Days led a balanced LSU attack with 14 points on 6-11 shooting, while Skylar Mays had 12 points on 5-of-8 shooting, three assists and three steals. Charles Manning Jr., played 28 minutes off the bench and had 12 points on 6-of-9 shooting and Javonte Smart had 11 points, six assists and three steals.
Liberty, which opens ASun play on Thursday, hit 20-of-49 shots with eight treys with 9-of-9 at the line. Scottie James and Darius McGhee had 12 points each to lead the Flames, while Georgie Pacheco-Ortiz had 11 and Caleb Homesley 10.
LSU outrebounded Liberty, 31-27.
There were eight lead changes in the early part of the game before the Tigers began to assert themselves. Down one with 3:18 to go in the first half, Trendon Watford scored on a jump shot and got a layup to make it 27-24, LSU. Manning hit a jumper to make it 29-24 and after a Liberty bucket, Watford took and hit LSU’s first three-point attempt in 12 minutes to send the Tigers into the dressing room up 32-26 at the half.
LSU continued to keep Liberty at bay early in the second half and the shooting percentage kept rising. LSU hit just 9-of-their-first-25 shots before hitting 9-of-13 field goals to remain up 41-35 with 15:07 to play.
The Tigers would pretty much put the game away with a 9-0 run that saw the margin go from seven, 46-39, with 13:01 to play to 16 at 55-39 with 10:25 to play. That sequence was finished by a steal and an emphatic dunk by Emmitt Williams that broke the net and eventually led to a 13-minute delay while Maravich Center crew members replaced the net.
The delay did not hurt LSU overall as Liberty could only get the game down to eight points, 57-49, with seven minutes to play before the Tigers expanded the game to the final margin.
LSU will now prepare for Southeastern Conference play beginning on Saturday at 11 a.m. when they travel to Tennessee for an 11 a.m. contest that will be televised on ESPNU and broadcast on the LSU Sports Radio Network. The Tigers first home SEC game will be on Jan. 8 at 8 p.m. against Arkansas. Tickets for that game are available at LSUTix.net.
(Press Release Provided by LSU Athletics)